Wednesday, October 17, 2007
"Grace does not force man's free will, but respects it, and leaves man free to act with it or not. Grace, therefore, does not destroy our freewill, but only helps it, and our own working with grace is required. "God who has created thee without thee, will not save thee without thee " says St. Augustine: and in Holy Scripture it is repeatedly stated that God will render to every one according to his works. A renovation which renders a soul renewed, pure, bright, amiable and endearing to God.
We stand in continual need of actual grace to perform good acts, both before and after being justified. "Without me you can do nothing," says our Saviour, and St. Paul declares that without God's grace we are incapable of even a good thought. The good acts, however, done by the help of grace without justification are not, strictly speaking, meritorious, but serve to smooth the way to justification, to move God, though merely through His mercy and condescension, to help us and render us better disposed for the same. But if, with the assistance of actual grace, good works are done by a person who is in a state of justifying grace, then they are acceptable to God, and merit an increase of grace on earth and an increase of glory in Heaven.
…All our merits, however, without any exception, are grounded on the merits of Jesus Christ, and on His grace, without which no one can move a step towards heaven.
The merit of a good action performed in a state of grace, as being in consequence of justification, and in union with our Lord, is truly our own merit, because that good action is really performed by us, by our co-operation with God's grace; but it is also, and principally, a merit of our Lord, as a grape is the fruit of the branch, and yet also and principally the fruit of the parent vine without which, or if not connected with which, the branch could not produce any fruit, or indeed have become a branch at all. Our merit, therefore, does not take away from Christ's merits, for without Him we can do nothing. We merit through Christ, Christ makes us merit; or still more properly, Christ merits in us, and therefore all the glory is His…
JESUS CHRIST died for all mankind; He truly died that "He might taste death for all." (Hebrews ii. 9.) Yet we know that all men will not be saved, but only those who do His will; for we read in St. Paul : "And being consummated, He became to all that obey Him the cause of eternal salvation." (Hebrews v. 9.) And so, notwithstanding Christ's redemption, it is stated in the gospel that some "shall go into everlasting punishment." (St. Matt. xxv. 46.) St. Paul did not say that God will save all men, but, "Who will have all men to be saved" (1 Timothy ii. 4), implying thereby that for salvation, man's will and co-operation is required to fulfill the conditions, and use the means appointed by God Himself for the purpose.
Only those who "have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Apocalypse [Rev.] vii. 14), that is, who have the merits of Christ applied to them, and who persevere to the end in doing what is commanded, will be saved.
The direct means instituted by Christ Himself for applying His infinite merits to the souls of men are the holy sacraments, which are so many channels instituted by Jesus Christ to convey to men His grace purchased for us at the price of His most precious blood: "You shall draw waters with joy out of the Saviour's fountains." (Isaias xii. 3.)"
-The Glories of the Catholic Church (1895)
Imprimatur: Michael Augustine, Archbishop of NY